Breaking News Bar
updated: 5/26/2013 4:03 PM

Officials say bridge collapse should prompt review

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • A portion of the Interstate 5 bridge is submerged after it collapsed into the Skagit River dumping vehicles and people into the water in Mount Vernon, Wash., Thursday, May 23, 2013 according to the Washington State Patrol.

      A portion of the Interstate 5 bridge is submerged after it collapsed into the Skagit River dumping vehicles and people into the water in Mount Vernon, Wash., Thursday, May 23, 2013 according to the Washington State Patrol.
    Associated Press

  • A crew from the National Transportation Safety Board inspects a section of the Skagit River Bridge, Saturday, May 25, 2013 in Mount Vernon, Wash. The chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board said Saturday the bridge collapse in Washington state is a wake-up call for the nation.

      A crew from the National Transportation Safety Board inspects a section of the Skagit River Bridge, Saturday, May 25, 2013 in Mount Vernon, Wash. The chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board said Saturday the bridge collapse in Washington state is a wake-up call for the nation.
    Associated Press

  • In this photo provided by Francisco Rodriguez, a man is seen sitting atop a car that fell into the Skagit River after the collapse of the Interstate 5 bridge there minutes earlier Thursday, May 23, 2013, in Mount Vernon, Wash.

      In this photo provided by Francisco Rodriguez, a man is seen sitting atop a car that fell into the Skagit River after the collapse of the Interstate 5 bridge there minutes earlier Thursday, May 23, 2013, in Mount Vernon, Wash.
    Associated PRess

 
Associated Press

SEATTLE -- The collapse of an interstate highway bridge in northern Washington state should be a wake-up call that prompts an expansive safety review, according to National Transportation Safety Board officials.

Investigators are trying to determine why a bridge over Interstate 5 about 60 miles north of Seattle collapsed after a truck clipped a steel truss and what can be done to prevent similar accidents. Officials have scheduled updates throughout the day Sunday.

Order Reprint Print Article
 
Interested in reusing this article?
Custom reprints are a powerful and strategic way to share your article with customers, employees and prospects.
The YGS Group provides digital and printed reprint services for Daily Herald. Complete the form to the right and a reprint consultant will contact you to discuss how you can reuse this article.
Need more information about reprints? Visit our Reprints Section for more details.

Contact information ( * required )

Success - request sent close

NTSB Chairwoman Debbie Hersman on Saturday examined the scene in the Skagit River where two vehicles plunged into the water. Three people involved escaped with non-life threatening injuries.

An investigation by The Associated Press suggests similar accidents could happen elsewhere. Thousands of bridges around the U.S. are kept standing by engineering design, rather than sheer size or redundant protections. Such spans may be one freak accident or mistake away from collapse.

Bridge regulators call them "fracture critical" bridges, because if a single, vital component is compromised, they can crumple.

Hersman's team will spend about a week inspecting the I-5 bridge, talking to the truck driver whose vehicle hit it and examining maintenance documents and accident reports.

Other large vehicles struck the Skagit River bridge before the collapse Thursday, she noted. Investigators are using a high tech 3-D video camera to review the scene and attempt to pinpoint where the bridge failure began. Officials say they are working to find out whether the collapse was a fluke or a sign of bigger problems.

Hersman does not expect the investigation to delay removal of debris from the river or work on temporary replacement or repair plans. State and federal officials will work together on the investigation, she said.

They'll be watching for safety issues that could affect other bridges.

"The results can be very catastrophic," Hersman said. "We're very fortunate in this situation."

Washington state officials said Saturday that it will take time to find both short- and long-term fixes for the I-5 bridge.

While the NTSB finishes its inspection, state workers will begin cleaning up the river. Next, a temporary solution will be put in place to return traffic to Washington state's most important north-south roadway.

Motorists should not expect to drive on I-5 between Mount Vernon and Burlington for many weeks and possibly months, said Washington Transportation Department spokesman Bart Treece.

About 71,000 vehicles use that stretch of highway every day.

Officials were looking for a temporary, pre-fabricated bridge to replace the 160-foot section that failed, Gov. Jay Inslee said Friday. That option could be in place in weeks. Otherwise, it could be months before a replacement can be built, the governor said.

Inslee said it will cost $15 million to repair the bridge. The federal government has promised $1 million in emergency dollars and more money could come later, according to Washington's congressional delegation.

Share this page
Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.
    help here